EAST LANSING – The Michigan State baseball team fell to Maryland in the opener of its final regular season series, 6-3, on Thursday afternoon at McLane Stadium. A pair of three-run innings by the Terrapins erased an early Spartan lead and Maryland starting pitcher Mike Shawaryn held MSU to six hits in a complete-game performance.
Both teams are now even in the conference race at 12-10, while MSU is 33-17 overall and Maryland 27-24.
“Tough loss today,” said MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. “I thought for seven innings we played really good baseball. The wheels kind of came off for us there in the middle of the ballgame and you can’t give good clubs opportunities like that, especially with their guy (Shawaryn) on the mound, who is as talented as there is in the country.”
The Spartans grabbed the lead quickly in the bottom of the first as leadoff hitter Brandon Hughes got aboard with a double into right field and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Dan Durkin.
Michigan State starter Ethan Landon kept the Maryland offense in check through the first four innings, holding the Terps to one hit while racking up seven strikeouts. Landon retired nine consecutive until a lofting single into shallow right field by Madison Nickens to start the fifth inning sparked a three-run Maryland rally.
A sac bunt moved Nickens over to second and then an RBI single into right field by Nick Cieri tied the game. Andrew Bechtold followed with an RBI double and scored two batters later on a wild pitch to make it 3-1 Terps.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Maryland to start the bottom of the sixth and the Terps capitalized on the opportunity. A sac fly, error on a pickoff attempt and RBI double plated all three runners to push the Maryland lead to 6-1.
The sixth inning also marked the end of Landon’s day. The righty struck out seven but took the loss to fall to 7-3.
Freshman reliever Riley McCauley recorded the final two outs of the top of the sixth and went on to hold Maryland scoreless over his three innings of relief work.
The Spartans cut into the Maryland lead in the bottom of the ninth with RBI doubles by Jordan Zimmerman and Matt Byars, but Shawaryn got back-to-back groundballs for the final two outs, making the final score 6-3.
The Spartans and Terrapins will meet again on Friday at 3:05 p.m.
“We’ve got two games left in the series and our guys are going to be ready to come out and compete tomorrow,” said Boss.